Houston Astros Rookie Jeremy Peña Named American League Championship Series MVP

He may have just missed out on the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but Jeremy Peña is celebrating another title.

The 25-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and shortstop is returning to Houston as the American League Championship Series MVP.

Jeremy Peña,Peña punctuated his epic four-game run in the Houston Astros’ sweep of the New York Yankees with his third homer of the postseason during the third inning of a 6-5 win in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

The big blast spoiled an early Yanks’ lead, took the ticketed crowd of 46,545 out of it and served as the proverbial turning point in the final game of a series that was never really close.

“It’s surreal,” Peña said. “You dream about this stuff when you’re a kid, and shout-out to my teammates. We show up every single day. We stayed true to ourselves all year. We’re a step away from the ultimate goal.”

Peña finished the ALCS 6-for-17 with two homers and two doubles, good for a .353/.353/.824 (1.176 OPS) slash line.

The finishing touch featured the shortstop pummeling a middle-in slider from Nestor Cortes after the Yanks’ lefty led off the inning with walks to Martín Maldonado and Jose Altuve for a massive blast down the left-field line.

Statcast measured the homer a projected 408 feet and 104.8 mph off the bat.

With one epic swing — hands in, hips torqued — Peña tied the game at 3 after the Yankees took an early lead against Lance McCullers Jr., the first time that Houston had trailed New York at the end of an in-game inning in 11 meetings this season. The only other times they trailed were via walk-offs from Aaron Judge during a series in June.

It was an impressive sequence of making a mid-at-bat adjustment. Cortes, who exited immediately after the homer with a left groin injury, wouldn’t throw Peña a fastball, instead attempting to jam cutters and sliders inside, with one changeup way off the plate. So, on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Peña went hunting for offspeed ahead 3-1 in a hitter’s count — and he feasted when he saw the hanging breaking ball.

Peña knew he got all of it, transferring the barrel to his right hand as he paced out of the batter’s box, watching the ball sail before pinwheeling the lumber down the first-base line and breaking into a stride. As he rounded third base and glanced to the visiting dugout, he smiled toward his teammates and broke into a shrug, akin to the one that Michael Jordan made famous during the 1992 NBA Finals.

It was also another moment illustrating how well Houston has thrived with Peña hitting behind the leadoff man Jose Altuve. When Peña hit in the No. 2 hole during the regular season, the Astros went 42-7, and they entered Sunday undefeated this postseason with Peña hitting in that spot in every game.

“Jeremy has done a lot of good things,” Altuve said. “If I start talking about him, we might be here two hours. He’s a great player and I love the way he’s handling everything.”

Altuve and Carlos Correa had a relationship that Astros manager Dusty Baker likened to Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, so the words from Altuve — the 2019 ALCS MVP — carried weight.

“I think it’s important that Carlos passed the torch to him because I’ve seen some players don’t pass the torch,” Baker said. “They pass some dynamite. But Carlos passed the torch and he was a mentor to him. This is what baseball and life is all about, rooting for somebody else, because there’s a lot of jobs out there. We wanted to keep Carlos. Carlos wanted to stay but [we] couldn’t get things together. But the organization also felt that Peña was the right guy for the job, and he’s exceeded expectations.”

Aside from Sunday, Peña also put the Astros squarely on his shoulders with a solo homer in the 18th inning of their marathon ALDS Game 3 win in Seattle, the only run of what’s easily been Houston’s most tense game in these playoffs.

Peña’s 22 homers in the regular season were tied for sixth among shortstops and ranked second among first-year players to only Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez, who was named the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner. But Peña, who is good friends with fellow Dominican Rodríguez, will probably be fine with that given that his team is headed to the World Series.

The Kid Mero to Guest Star on ABC’s “Black-ish” as Part of Upcoming Election-Themed Episodes

The Kid Mero is getting political…

The 37-year-old Dominican American television personality, writer and comedian, whose real name is Joel Martinez, will be part of Black-ish’s partially animated and election themed special next month.

The Kid Mero

The Kid Mero joins a roster of special guests that includes his Desus & Mero co-host Desus Nice and Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The special, directed by Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry, will follow the Johnson family as they navigate the upcoming election.

In the episode, which is the second of two new episodes scheduled to air back-to-back on October 4, Dre (Anthony Anderson) begins to explore local politics and, at one point, seeks some advice from Abrams. Later, he joins Desus Nice and The Kid Mero on their late night talk show Desus & Mero for a sit-down interview with some hard-hitting questions for the aspiring candidate.

Written by Eric Horsted, the live action ‘Election Special Pt. 1’ will see Marcus Scribner’s Junior pumped about finally being able to vote, only to find he has been dropped from the voters list – and discovering the realities of why that occurred. The animated ‘Election Special Pt. 2’ is penned by Graham Towers and Ben Deeb. That 10:30 – 11 PM ET episode early next month sees the Peter Mackenzie portrayed Stevens from Dre’s (Anderson) ad agency make a lunge for a Congressional seat. A lunge that takes Dre and his family down to the underbelly of modern day politics.

The back-to-back episodes will be broadcast on October 4 on ABC. The only caveat in that plan is if the Orlando bubbled NBA Finals are forced to shift their schedule, which would have a significant ripple effect over the entire ABC programming chart.

In its upcoming seventh season, black-ish will tackle current events like the global pandemic and “the movement for social justice and equality,” according to ABC.

Santana to Perform National Anthem Before Game 2 of the NBA Finals

Carlos Santana is back in the NBA Finals

The 69-year-old Mexican American musician, a 10-time Grammy-winner will make his return to the NBA Finals stage to perform the national anthem on Sunday night (June 4).

Carlos Santana

Joining Santana will be famed bassist Benny Rietveld. The two are slated to perform at the start of Game 2 between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

For the last two years, the San Francisco native has performed in the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.

Train singer Pat Monahan delivered a powerful rendition prior to Thursday night’s Game 1, where the Warriors beat the Cavs, 113-91.

Santana will continue his musical escapades later this month when he launches his U.S. summer tour in Washington. The tour will kick off June 23 and run through August.

You can watch Santana and Rietveld’s performance at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

Varejao to Continue Playing for the Golden State Warriors

Anderson Varejao is still a warrior

The 33-year-old Brazilian basketball player has agreed to a return to the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN.

Anderson Varejao

Sources have told ESPN.com that the Warriors and Varejao have finalized a one-year deal that will bring him back to Oakland after Golden State signed the longtime player on February 22, 2016,

Varejao, 33, spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers after being selected 30th overall in 2004.

He joined the Warriors following the 2016 trade deadline after he was moved to the Portland Trail Blazers and then waived.

During the Warriors’ playoff run to the NBA Finals, he averaged 5.5 minutes and 1.2 points a game.

Varejão is the first player in NBA history to play for both Finals teams in the same season.

Blacc to Perform During Game 7 of the NBA Finals

It’s a star-spangled Sunday for Aloe Blacc

The 37-year-old Panamanian American singer-songwriter will provide the night’s entertainment with a special rendition of the National Anthem before tonight’s winner-takes-all game between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Aloe Blacc

In addition to performing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the Grammy-nominee will also

offer the crowd at Oakland’s Oracle Arena a special halftime performance.

Blacc helmed the vocals for Aviciis 2013 hit “Wake Me Up” and unleashed his third album Lift Your Spirit in 2013.

Don’t miss Blacc and Game 7 tonight when the game airs live tonight at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

Santana to Perform National Anthem at Game 2 of the NBA Finals

Carlos Santana is heading back to the hardwoods…

The 68-year-old Mexican musician and his wife Cindy Blackman Santana will once again perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Game 2 on Sunday night.

Carlos-Santana-and-Cindy-Blackman

The global rock star has sold more than 100 million records over his 40-year tenure thanks to Latin-infused hits like “Oye Como Va,” “Maria Maria” and “Smooth.”

In April, he released Santana IV, which saw the reunion of his band’s original ’70s lineup, comprised of Santana, Gregg Rolie on keyboards, Neal Schon on guitar, Michael Carabello on percussion and Michael Shrieve on drums.

Santana IV also debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200.

His wife, Cindy Blackman, is an American jazz and rock drummer, who also joined her husband in performing the national anthem at last year’s NBA Finals.

After the Golden State Warriors claimed victory in Game 1, the hometown team will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers for round 2 at Oakland’s Oracle Arena on Sunday, June 5.

The game airs at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

Barbosa Agrees to One-Year, $2.5 Million Deal with the Golden State Warriors

It’ll be another golden season for Leandro Barbosa

The 32-year-old Brazilian professional basketball player and veteran guard has agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract to stay with the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN.com.

Leandro Barbosa

Barbosa has bounced all over the league and played for six different teams in his 12 seasons. He was taken 28th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 2003, then was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he played his first seven seasons.

After stops with the Toronto Raptors, Indiana PacersBoston Celtics and Suns again, Barbosa signed a one-year deal with the Warriors in 2014.

The 6-foot-3 combo guard appeared in 66 games (one start) for the 67-win Warriors this past season, primarily backing up league MVP Stephen Curry. Barbosa averaged 7.1 points and 1.5 assists in 14.9 minutes per game.

Barbosa, an unrestricted free agent, made several key contributions in the playoffs, including 13 points in a Game 5 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

In 2007, Barbosa won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award after averaging 18.1 points per game.

He holds career averages of 11.4 points and 2.3 assists in 22.9 minutes per game.

Diaz to Appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night”

It’s game on for Cameron Diaz

The 41-year-old half-Cuban American actress will appear during Jimmy Kimmel’s primetime editions of Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night.

Cameron Diaz

For the seventh consecutive year, in conjunction with the NBA Finals, ABC will air the late night talk show host’s primetime specials, which will air every night of the NBA Finals beginning with Game 1 on Thursday, June 5.

Broadcasts will feature basketball editions of Kimmel’s signature comedy bits Mean Tweets and Lie Witness News.

In addition to Diaz, guests for these shows include Jason Segel, Tracy Morgan, Mila Kunis, Martin Lawrence, Snoop Dogg, Psy, Ice Cube and more.

Previous JKL: Game Night guests include President Barack Obama, Adam Sandler, David Beckham, Liv Tyler, Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell, Matthew McConaughey, Ashton Kutcher, Drew Barrymore, Chris Rock, Danny DeVito and Denzel Washington.

Previous JKL: Game Night  specials have premiered comedy pieces featuring Mike Tyson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Dwyane Wade.

Montana’s “Graceland” Series Renewed for a Second Season

Manny Montana will be spending another year at Graceland

Two days before Graceland‘s first-season finale, the USA Network has given the drama, starring the Latino actor as  Joe ‘Johnny’ Tuturro, a 13-episode second-season renewal.

Manny Montana

Graceland got off to a decent start in June with 3.3 million total viewers and 1 million adults 18-49 against Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

With high double-digit Live+7 bumps, Graceland has averaged 4 million total viewers (+74%) and 1.8 million adults 18-49 (+90%) in its most current ratings, ranking as the No. 1 new cable scripted series of the summer in 18-49.

“[Show creator] Jeff Eastin has once again delivered for USA Network,” said USA President Chris McCumber. “We’re proud to be the home of one of the summer’s top new cable dramas and anticipate Graceland will be a long-term player for the network.”

In Graceland, from Fox Television Studios, rookie FBI Agent Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) is unexpectedly shipped off to a Southern California beachfront property-turned-safehouse for undercover agents, dubbed “Graceland,” and assigned to investigate his would-be mentor — the enigmatic and legendary FBI Agent Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata).

Anthony to Perform “God Bless America” at MLB All-Star Game

Marc Anthony is preparing for an all-star performance…

The 44-year-old Puerto Rican singer will perform “God Bless America” during the seventh inning of the upcoming MLB All-Star Game, which will take place on July 16 and be broadcast live on Fox.

Marc Anthony

Anthony, whose salsa song “Vivir Mi Vida” has been No. 1 for the eight consecutive weeks on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs chart, has gained acclaim for performing the national anthem, including a show-stopping performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner at the 2011 NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, Anthony’s “Rain Over Me” co-collaborator Pitbull will also make at appearance at the big game.

The 32-year-old Cuban American rap superstar will warm up the crowd at the Home Run Derby, taking place July 15 and airing on ESPN.

Mr. Worldwide will perform his hits “Don’t Stop the Party” and “Feel This Moment.”

American Idol winner Candace Glover will sing the national anthem before the start of the all-star game.